63 miles and 1,561 metres climbed
After a sort of rest day I set off in trepidation wondering if I had actually recovered a little from that half day. The route was up through Manchester City centre. In fact the ride was quite fast despite the rush hour traffic, rubbish road surfaces and infrequent cycle lanes. After all the media exposure of Manchester’s mayor, Andy Burnham I would have thought a bit more action and a little less talk would be a good idea on transportation.
The condition of British roads, their maintenance and adaptation to be cycle friendly would take many £ billions. Looking at Manchester then to restore the road surfaces is an enormous project, to redesign layouts for bicycles means reducing space for motor vehicles (no votes in that) and large capital investment and then keeping it all in good condition necessitates a dramatic expansion of the Highways Department and it’s budget. It’s not going to happen.
Any urban road system is maintained by that town or city council. They’re always strapped for cash. Think of the many statutory obligations they have to fulfil with their taxes. Filling potholes is not a priority. Major highways are maintained by The Highways Agency and they’re well funded, look how good a condition major A roads and motorways are. Lastly many out of town but local roads are maintained by the County Council Highways Departments. You’ve often seen repairs up country lanes and scratched your head as to why city residential streets carrying thousands of cars are potholed ruins yet blokes are mending unused roads in the middle of nowhere; now you know, it’s a different organisation and budget. The whole system, responsibility and funding is a shambles isn’t it. Feel free to ask me questions, I spent six months visiting councils and analysing their Highway Department’s performance in my last job. Who says I’m dull?
Another observation about Manchester is the diversity. When I was a student there, over 40 years ago, it would have meant a few scousers, Irish and southerners mixed in. Today it is much farther afield with mothers and daughters abounding in hijabs as they headed to school, folk who were African, in ethnicity, by origin on their way to work and then in North Manchester Orthodox Jews in their strict dress code often pushing buggies with young children in ‘western dress’. Quite a mix.
The road rose from the centre of Manchester. The Sat Nav directed us hither and thither:
In Bury, much to Peter’s horror our second breakfast was taken. I enjoyed the Egg McMuffin but I was made to confirm that this would be our only visit to McDonalds on the trip! Hard I thought.
I was not expecting much from Darwen and Blackburn but bathed in sunshine they were splendid. I apologise.
Climbing up from Blackburn we started to experience some serious gradients but the views around Whalley were exceptional before we came to rest for a spot of lunch.
Peter in his desire to sample local delicacies asked for a local cake and received Manchester tart. This is basically a custard tart sat on jam. The helping was served up and cut into two halves. I got to my portion first because Peter likes to savour his food and enjoy the taste. I’m more from the labrador dog school of eating where all food is good when served and must be consumed in the minimum number of unsightly gulps.
So I ate my cake but unfortunately Peter’s half was blown off the table in a sudden gust of wind. Peter doesn’t really ‘do’ bad temper but with this tragedy he came very close. I tried to cheer him up by saying I didn’t enjoy it. I lied.
“Ah” I hear you ask.. “is he still banging on about the traffic?” No, after he lost the plot in Crewe and devised a scoring matrix for drivers between minus three to plus three based on how they behave around cyclists electro shock therapy was administered and now he just corners drivers he views to be in need of a lecture for misdemeanours. A frightened chap, in a car, in north Blackburn actually apologised when his error was discussed! I was there.
The Sat Nav should have sent us west of Clitheroe but not mine! Clitheroe was fabulous with its castle, I’m glad I visited, but OMG what followed was inhuman as I ground up at the pace of a glacier from Clitheroe to Waddington. It was painful on the knee and horrifically slow. Clitheroe wasn’t on the Guide’s route: I know why.
I was now aiming for High Bentham, back in Yorkshire (yippee!) and I was up on the Fells. The scenery was awesome. The going was slow and as you can see the total climbing was enormous for today. Traffic was nearly non existent.
I was mainly by myself as Peter chose an earlier detour but as I closed on the destination Peter hailed me from behind after he’d caught me up and managed an additional ten miles for the day.
The hotel/pub was our lodgings for the night. A splendid room, great grub and a very nice pint of Thwaites.
Tomorrow should be easier. I may have said that before and even I don’t believe it.